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Political Updates and Observations

  • The optics of President-Elect Joe Biden selecting defeated Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) as his Attorney General would be a bad political move since he pledged during his campaign to address the ongoing police killings of unarmed Black males. His AG should be a Black male, and his failure to appoint one could cost him the House majority in the 2022 midterms as young Blacks and progressives sit them out.

  • The Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx, and Native American turnout could well decide whether the Democrats or Republicans win the two Georgia U.S. Senate seats up for grabs on January 5th.

  • Joe Biden has promised that his family would not have “any involvement with any foreign government at all” while he is in the White House. He needs to pay special attention to his son, Hunter, and his brother, Jim, who have borrowed money from and/or gone into business with several of Biden’s major donors over the years.

Joe Biden is in the throes of a difficult political educational, and taking forward and backward steps as he assembles his administration. His largely all White - with White males in the key roles - foreign policy cabinet appointments overlook the changing demographics of the world and the nation.

Although he has been sensitive to diversity, he needs to recognize that he has, to date, been given a pass by key members of the Democratic base of Black women who are primarily responsible for him taking the presidential oath on January 20, 2021. Without the specific early support of four Black females, his victories in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would likely have been more difficult.

Ms. Emily Clyburn, Rep. Jim Clyburn’s late wife, was the linchpin in Clyburn’s stirring speech in backing Biden’s candidacy three days before the February 2020 South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, when he lagged behind the frontrunners. That singular act propelled him to the nomination. Ms. Emily, who was wildly popular among Black women, sealed the victory from her grave.

Biden subjected Atty. and Professor Anita Hill to savage misogyny by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chaired, during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas’ appointment to U.S. Supreme Court. And it took more than two decades before he summoned the awareness and courage to apologize. Hill endorsed him.

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, who chaired the 2008 Obama-Biden transition committee for the Department of Education, and was viewed as being the Education Secretary designate, was summarily passed over, for a less qualified candidate, at the behest of billionaire campaign donors. She took the slight on the chin, carried out her assignment, and never uttered a word.

When Biden called on her again to assume the same role in the aftermath of Betsy DeVos’ disastrous reign as Secretary of Education, Dr. Darling Hammond re-assumed the role in service to her country. She has publicly let it be known that she does not want to be considered for the position again, but she would be an ideal and by far the best choice.

Despite Darling-Hammond’s reluctance to go into the Biden-Harris administration, they should beseech her to reconsider because it is in the national interest. Moreover, given the rapid declines in the education of low-income students, especially those of color, throughout the pandemic, it is also a matter of national security.

Shirley Sherrod, former Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture during the Obama-Biden administration, was summarily dismissed by then Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsacks after a doctored video on a conservative website accused her of discriminating against a White farmer. After she exposed the hoax herself, both Vilsacks and Obama apologized in person.

Obama and Vilsacks offered Sherrod another job in the Department, which she turned down. In her book, The Courage to Hope: How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fear (2012), Sherrod was kind to Vilsacks, Obama, and Biden and has supported Biden’s ascension to the presidency. A classy lady, she harbors no ill will and has moved on with her life as an advocate for African American and other small farmers.

What is most instructive here is that Biden has been given a substantive political education by Black women to whom he has not always presented his best self. Like teachers with perplexing students in our nation’s perpetually under-resourced classrooms, they embraced him nonetheless. The question which remains, however, is whether he has sufficiently learned his lesson that politics is about addition, not subtraction.

Now that Biden is taking office in a period where he will have an exceedingly narrow House majority and a one vote Senate Democratic majority or a Republican majority, he must take extreme care not to alienate any segment of his Democratic base. He must bring both progressives and centrists, of a younger ilk, into meaningful governing roles under his presidential tent and quell ongoing intra-party tensions.

Biden must become an “A” student, in attending to the complex problems of his Democratic base, during a brief span of time if his presidency is to enjoy any success. His first and most important task will be to assemble a team that will broadly satisfy his Democratic supporters. Hopefully, he has learned from his mistakes in interacting with the aforementioned women who still makeup his most loyal following.

Otherwise, he will fail as President and go into the history books as a loser like his immediate predecessor, Donald John Trump. Neither Democrats nor the nation can afford for that to happen. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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is published  Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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